"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Raging Hose-beast of Christmas Present

For those who know me personally or who have read this blog, you will know I absolutely preach self care. I cannot stress the importance enough. My husband has an incredibly demanding and time consuming job. We homeschool our children and they both veer towards an empathic nature. I have a very strong personality. The result is I tend to set the emotional tone for both my home and my family. Taking care of my emotional needs is vital for our peace and tranquility.

But as you all know, Christmas is upon us. This year is a bit more fraught with stress for us. My husband is flat out getting his butt handed to him at his job.  He is amazing but the work level is astronomical and he is struggling to not drown. Another addition is my new part time job. It is greatly beneficial to our lives but it also adds just one more thing.

Let's cut to the chase. I have not been eating well. I have skipped far too many yoga practices, meditation sessions, and I need to go for a run so badly I might just take off in my house shoes here in any minute. I woke up this morning with my mind racing and physically shaking. It is just not good at all.

Now I could muddle through and hope for the best. I guess I could also start day drinking. But let me be honest with you, if you lose your mind this time of year in order to make perfect memories for you family then you are most likely perpetrating an epic fail. There is a very good chance your children's memories won't be of a perfect Christmas. Nope, they will probably have precious and endearing memories of mom turning into a hellacious bitch and holidays as something everyone just tried to make it through as unscathed as possible. Probably not the warm remembrances we were going for, right?

So what to do, what to do....

You grab your over-committed, unrealistic expectations by the horns and your wrestle it into submission. But in a loving, peaceful, and zen way, of course.

Seriously though, this is what I do anytime I whirl out of control like this. First STOP. Just stop. Close your eyes and breathe. Take five minutes to meditate. I promise, you really do have five minutes. Clear your mind and then gentle seek to get to the route of your problem. Mine are lack of self care and unrealistic expectations.

We are referring back to the oxygen mask here. You put your oxygen mask on and then your children's and anyone else you claim responsibility. Oh, and remember most people are simply not your responsibility. So I take care of my needs first in this instance.

I need to clear my brain and have a tranquil environment. I grab a piece of paper and brain dump everything I "think" I need to do. Then I clean my home to what makes me happy. For me it is a clean kitchen and clutter picked up. I light candles and turn on chant music of some kind. I have read many articles about chants raising your vibrations. I am not sure how it works but for me it works.

The first thing apparent, normally, is I am not eating well, doing yoga and mediation practice, or working out especially running. It really is funny the things I know with every fiber of my being I need to stay centered and in harmony are the first thing I chuck away. These are the first thing I change back. For me this means probably no junk for Christmas. Yes, I am a total sugar junkie and those seasonal treats are amazing but honestly, sanity and balance feels better than any of them taste. I will flat out cancel other things to run and do yoga. Remember, this is your foundation and it is of the utmost importance.

Once these things are back in alignment it is easy to see what else needs to go. Go over that list of things you are convince you MUST do. None of us like to shirk our commitments but sometimes we must summon up our humility and admit, "I am sorry but I committed to more than I can do at this time." Sometimes it means dropping commitments. Sometimes it means buying something rather than homemade. The truth is those people who love us and really want the best for us will understand even if they are disappointed. If they don't, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate that particular relationship, family or not.

It is so easy to get carried away this time of year. It is so easy to run ourselves ragged. Is it any wonder people fall sick right after the holidays? We refuse to care for ourselves and compromise our immune systems. It just isn't worth it to me.

So today, I am streamlining everything. I am eating well. I have scheduled yoga for this afternoon. I have scheduled a run for tomorrow and a couple of days next week. Those particular appointments with myself are sacrosanct. Only a true emergency will pull me away and nothing involving cookies is an emergency.

I encourage to not lose your focus at this time of year or any time of year. You are not nearly as effective as you think when you do. Simplify and do what is the most important to you and your family and our memories and experiences will be so much the better for it.

May peace and harmony find you my friends and may the warmth and blessings of the holidays be upon you.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Exceeding My Limitations: My Birthday Present To Myself

This year my birthday present is a family lesson and a day of climbing at the local indoor climbing gym. This isn't a surprise to anyone who knows me. I have wanted to do this for some time now. It is a logical adventure for us to embark on at this point. However, it recently became even more important to me.

This past summer I developed vertigo. After a rather large scare and a slew of medical tests, it seems to be the type some women simply develop in their 40's. At first it really affected my life. It was hard to get around and it hit hard. Time has eased the worst of the symptoms and attacks but it has become a permanent resident of my life. It is mine to learn from and deal with each day. Yoga was difficult until I learned to just stop, focus, and let it past. Although it will sometimes still bring me to my knees, over all it isn't too much of a burden.

Until Thanksgiving Weekend at the Trout Lodge.

We love getting away for that weekend and jumping head long into outdoor adventures. We hike, explore, and generally ramble. My daughter went on her first two solo trail rides. She was so proud to sit up there holding the reins of our horse. She was, as she terms it, just so nervacited. I love that girl.

Actually, it was a long weekend of firsts. Logan tried archery for the first time. I tried it for the first time since middle school and discovered I am pretty damn good at it. So that's a new passion to explore. It was also our first time at climbing Pines Beak. It is a 35 foot climbing wall. Both the kids and John did amazingly well. I am mesmerized by the spirit of adventure my children embody. Seriously, it is wonderful to behold their courage and taste to try new things. Well, except food. My husband is a beautiful beast of a man, so no surprise there.

My story was different. I jumped into it ready to go. It is so hard but I was determined. But sometimes determination just isn't enough in a given situation. I barely made it two-thirds of the way up when my new nemesis struck me. Vertigo hit. The world spun while I was over 20 feet in the air. I immediately rappelled down. I was very disappointed first in myself and second in the new normal of my life. It pretty much sucked.

I have thought long and hard in that moment when I gave up. I know now I could have done a few things to hold it at bay or allow it to ease off again. I could have just stayed immobile right there and gave it time to pass. The truth is there was a line waiting to go and I did not feel I had the freedom to employ this. Well, I didn't really think. I reacted. Also, it was really a one try thing. One bite of the apple and then you are done. My limitations defeated me....for that moment.

Because you see, I am not going to be defeated. I am not going to allow vertigo to define my life. It will not decide my limitations. I am going to decide that for myself. I am going to do this again. I have designed a situation set up to help me succeed. We will have a two hour class. I will tell the instructor straight away my challenge so that person will know I may just need to hang out for a few minutes. I will have all day to try and try again. I want to do it once. I want my children to see me doing my level best to overcome this issue. Maybe I will do it again. Maybe I won't. That doesn't really matter. What matters is I have the determination, the focus, and the grit to give my all to reach this goal. Even if I don't, I will know I gave it may all. Isn't that what truly matters in the end?

Exceed your limitations my friends. Do not allow them to define you. Define yourself each and every day.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Real Life Yoga

When my son was born five and a half years ago, life changed. That little man came flying into our lives and the roller coaster that was his first two years of life had a profound impact on our little family. Where my daughter had been so easy, he proved to be a challenge. He was sick and rarely slept. Life was insane and hard.

About six months in I realized I needed to do something or it wasn't going to be pretty. My nerves were shot, my emotions were a wreck, and my overall health was suffering. I had flirted with yoga for well over a decade at that point but it was time to get serious. So I reluctantly drug my mat into the middle of my kitchen and my journey began. I have been asked, how did you do it with a two year old and a six month old? Well, it was hard but each day I unrolled my mat and started again.

Through the past five years during my yoga practice I have been crawled on, screamed at, puked on, and during some cat and cow pose series, ridden like a horsey. My children have attempted some rousing games of "London Bridge" while I held down dog. They have "decorated me to make me more pretty" while I held a precarious half moon pose. I have had to stop five minutes in because little man was just not having it.

My three dogs thought the kids were having too much fun so they joined in as well. Licked faces are common. Stepping back to find a pile of puppies that magically appeared is just not a surprise. Our new kitten now loves to attack my pony tail on any inverted position. It is good times.

I have also had the joy and privileged to guide my children through their first asanas when they wanted to,"do yoga with mommy". My precious old guy pup,now 15, often seeks the peace of my practice and curls up to sleep right beside my mat. Many of my savasanas have been accomplished with a warm, quiet toddler or preschooler draped immobile across my body. "I can hear your heart mommy. It is beautiful.", whispered to me in a reverent tone.

My yoga is my life. I try to live it on and off the mat. The truth is the world is not going to stop. It will not ease up with its demands and distractions as we find our inner peace. No, we must learn to find that inner calm, that equinimity, within the maelstrom of life. My kitchen yoga practice has taught me these lessons well.

There were many days I was frustrated. Could I please just get a few minutes of peace and quiet so I can do this???? How am I supposed to learn with all these distractions??? Well, now I understand the distractions were the lesson. All of these crazy and often hilarious situations has taught me great focus and determination. Learning to laugh at myself and humility were included for free.  It has taught me to get up, unroll my mat, and start my practice fresh each day.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chaos, Broken, and Foundations for Greater Strength and Growth

The past 5 months have been hard, life changing even. Once again I will warn you the following is pretty chaotic, raw, and even messy but that is what life has been for me so I think that is fitting.

In the past few months I was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, experienced major upheavals with my closest friends including loss, have been hit with some major financial issues, found out I no longer have a brain aneurysm even though they don't know why (but I am still very grateful), started experiencing perimenopause, and been brought full circle to face some of my greatest fears. It has been a hell of a ride.

The brain aneurysm was huge. It stops you in your tracks and makes you re-evaluate everything in your life. What matters? What is actually important? What will you do with your very short and precious amount of time here? Have I failed at this event called life? Big stuff. Often without any clear answers, just more questions. Then after some major tests....it was gone. They don't know why. The earlier tests showed it was there but the better test now shows nothing. I don't know why. Out of all of the things I have experience this summer, I think I am most at peace with this one. Maybe it was even a miracle. I could live with that.

During this time of medical mayhem and immediately following, I experience some very difficult and very emotional situations with friends incredibly dear to my heart. It was not a good time for me to deal with these issues but they happen when they happen. I won't go any further with this because it is not just my story to tell but needless to say I felt like part of my heart was ripped out of me. It hurt, a lot.

This all brings me to facing my fears. For most of my life I have never felt good enough. Deeply within my soul I have felt I was not living up to my potential and for some reason that failure mattered deeply. I am not actually terribly ambitious. I like living a life of thinking and dreaming. I like living a quiet life and I do not crave, nor do I want, to live a rigorous life of success. Even though it wasn't important to me, I felt the failure. I was failing...someone or something.

Having children changed my life. I am really good at this mother thing. I love running my home and caring for my family.  Homeschooling is something I excel at with ease. It just makes sense to me and I love it. What I do each day really matters. During this time I have branched out and went deeper in yoga and meditation. I started drawing and painting. I discovered for the first time I am an artist and I revel in it! I taught myself to play the recorder and then the piano. My life was very beautiful and fulfilling to me.

This summer has rocked that paradigm. Over a year ago John lost his job. We devastated all of our savings and money put back in order to survive the months before his new job started. We had to buy a second car and incur some additional expenses outside of our budget. Due to a high  deductible, NONE of my tests or doctor visits were paid for this summer. Every, single penny is out of pocket. Both kids and myself where walloped with major dental. Groceries and gas keep climbing. I am sure you understand. You live in this economy too. But what it comes down to is, I need to bring in some money to help the family and this scares the hell out of me.

I do not know if I have the strength and reserves to manage our family, homeschool, work, and keep my depression at bay. I am easily overwhelmed. I want the best for my family. Over the summer I also had my spirituality questioned. That was deeply personal and really cut me. The amalgamation of experiences had given rise to anger, irritation, anxiety, and even some rage. I think I had a band-aid over these emotions ripped away and they all poured forth. There was doubt that I could possibly practice yoga, mediation, and intentional living AND experience these big, ugly emotions. Any other time I would have let these musings roll off of me but this time, well this time was days after I had found out I didn't have a ticking time bomb in my head and my heart was vulnerable. It caused me to really doubt myself.

Now I know a lot of people have it harder than I do. I know there are eleventy frillion cases of people in far worse situations than I am. This is true. But pain is relative and still hurts. It doesn't really matter where you fall on the who has it worse scale, it can still feel devastating.

This brings me to now. In many ways I feel broken. I feel like my soul was stripped of protection and vulnerable then experienced some rather rough handling while in that fragile state. I am at a crossroad of how my life will be shaped from here. I am at the foundations. Yes, there is fear but you know what? There is some excitement as well. Change can be beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. Before we can create, we must often tear down. Am I broken or am I simply stripped bare and metaphysically tore down ready for the creation process? I can tell you I feel real. I feel authentic. I feel as if perspectives and preconceived notions have been at least partially stripped away leaving an open space waiting quietly for the new.

I wonder where this adventure will take me?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

That Moment When Everything Changes

I hope you are good with raw and probably not edited very well because I think that this going to be my style for the foreseeable future.

A few weeks ago I started experiencing vertigo. It was fairly significant at first but soon eased off. Still something felt off. I am not one who goes to doctors very often. I have a high pain tolerance and I just figure things will sort themselves out. Hey I am relatively young and quite healthy so it will all be okay, right? But something was just off so I went.

We went over everything and it was decided I should have an MRI. Just to be on the safe side, you know. No big deal.

Well, long story short. I have a brain aneurysm. I am 42 years old and a vessel could pop in my brain at any moment and it is over. Really changes your perspective on, well everything. This morning I spent time teaching my beautiful 6 year old daughter how to contact 911 and tell them our address and they we have dogs. Of course, we have talk about this but all of sudden the lesson seemed quite pressing.

I just found out today and I am meeting with a neurologist tomorrow. I have no idea what the prognosis will be but whatever it is that is what we have to deal with. There isn't a choice. I don't like that. I find I like my choices very much thank you.

Okay, now the good stuff and my friends there are always good things to be had. I find myself tearing up because of all the beauty in my life. My friends and family have already been offering help and prayers. I am surrounded by love and that is incredible. Then my husband, oh that man, that man. I don't think I say often enough how insanely lucky I am to have him my life. Do you know the Lana Del Ray song "Young and Beautiful"? She has this amazing, heartbreaking voice reminiscent of the torch singers of yesterday. She asks in her song if you will still love me when I am not longer young and beautiful and all I have left is my battered soul. In my relationship with my husband I can answer an unequivocal yes, yes he will still absolutely love me and stand by me no matter what happens. That knowledge leaves me feeling unbelievably secure. It is a comfort that means more to me than I can properly express.

I have been a little sad because I have not had much time for art, the piano, and reading. Now I have time to spend on those pursuits and really indulge in my creativity. I have something new to explore and I am effectively grounded from physical pursuits for the time being. One door closes and another one opens. Hannah and I will have more time for chess and science experiments. Logan and I can paint together and work puzzles. There are bright sides.

My best friend had super scary life threatening cancer. She beat it and her life has been irrevocably changed for the better. There are a multitude of stories like that. I choose to find hope in them. I think so much depends on your attitude. Will you stay positive, open, and loving? Will you see this as an opportunity to learn and grow? Will you take this reminder to cherish life for the precious, fleeting gift that it is?

Yes, yes I will. To all of it, yes I will.

May harmony and peace find you and fill your hearts and lives my friends.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Bootcamp with the Universe As Your Drill Sergeant

The following is raw and unedited. I just needed to get it out and this felt like the right place. 

Lately the universe has been dealing me some body blows. Earlier this spring, I will publicly humiliated by women I didn't even know in a way the reminded me of the humiliation only junior high mean girls can dish out. It hurt. I honestly hadn't done anything and it came out of nowhere. It was, well shocking. Then an important relationship ended on an ugly note. I don't form deep friendships with just anyone. I have the impression the I have been the subject of conversations with many other people. Being picked apart by people I don't even know at the instigation of someone close feels brutal. I feel emotionally violated and hurt.

Then I was floored, literally, by an acute case of vertigo. It was disorienting but not too worrying. But there were some funny signs accompanying it so I went to a doctor. Due to the lasting headaches, the doctor has ordered an MRI. Well, to be accurate, she is now fighting my insurance for one.

I am going to be honest, I am scared. I don't overreact in general but this one hit hard. I know I am already in an emotionally vulnerable state and I am sure that is exacerbating the situation but whatever the cause, I have a pit of fear in my stomach and it sucks big blue monkey butt.

There have been some other things but those are the major ones. It is true I am having strong, negative emotions over this whole thing but it is being balanced out by an equal measure of knowing in my gut this is all happening for a reason. I feel like the universe is tearing me down so I can be built up even stronger.

All of these experiences could very easily cause me to turn into myself and shut out the world. I could allow them to form a hard shell around my heart filled with distrust, fear, and worry. I could allow them to seep into my being and define who I am.

I don't think I am going to do that.Nope, not at all.

Through these not so great experiences I have been learning humility, clarity, truth, and authenticity. I have learned to trust my inner gut and my own judgement of who and what I am. I am also learning it would be better for me to be more open and allow more people in. I know that appears to be incongruous with having my trust betrayed but I actually feel deeply it is the right choice.

So I stand here and I am going to boldly admit I am scared. But I am also strong, loved, and know a bold, fearless heart is within me to rise up and meet all comings with courage and joy.

May harmony find you my friends.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saying Goodbye and Honoring Lessons

Through a series of events, I have organized a group of women hikers. We meet and take on endurance hikes, 10-15 miles in length. The interest in the group rather surprised me but I am not sure why. I think it actually makes sense. Women crave a sisterhood, being part of a tribe. I think many of us long to come together and be our authentic self. It is easier to accomplish in nature. How you look or who you know or whatever superfluous and superficial characteristics tend to be stripped away around mile 6 if you brought them at all.

I love this group. I come back feeling more connected and refreshed. It brings me full circle. We don't hike in winter as ice is prevalent and dangerous. After a long hiatus, I was excited to for the first one of the season.

At first the weather looked perfect. The long term forecast was for sunny skies in the 60's but slowly temperatures and my spirits started dropping. In the end the forecast was in the 40's. People dropped out. Too Cold. This winter has been hard enough. I get it. I do. I had to go. I was the one who put it together but I wasn't very happy about it.

Then I realized the universe was presenting me with a beautiful opportunity. Just this past week, my daughter and I had been on a hike looking for signs of spring. We had found them. We saw the first two wild flowers of the season rising out of the stark beauty of the barren winterscape. But I had never really said good-bye to winter.

If you read this blog or know me, then you will know this particular winter has been, well pretty horrible for me. I fought hard with despair and depression. It came close to overwhelming me but I pulled through in the end. But looking back, I can see I learned some immensely valuable lessons. I learned how strong I was. I learned what friends I could truly depend on for comfort and much needed strength. I learned it was okay to throw up my hands, hunker down, and just hibernate for a bit releasing myself from expectations and self-imposed responsibilities.

We don't tend to learn the truly important lessons in easy, comfortable situations. Nope, we best learn in the fire. It is within the metaphorical crucible we are truly reborn. For whatever reason, we need hardship and strife to break through to the next level. Winter had been my frigid fire. I have grown exponentially in these months. I think I owed my honor, respect, and a heartfelt and thankful good-bye to this season of my life.

The hike was amazingly beautiful and lifted my spirits higher than I could have imagined.

There is life waiting to burst forth in each of these pictures. It is quiet and patient but it is there. I am thrilled I was granted the opportunity to say good bye and honor the hardships and lessons learned. It was  beautiful and magical way to round out the experience.

May harmony find you.

(PS My friend Laura took these amazing pictures. Thank you so much for giving me permission to use them.)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Reflect and Refresh

Spring is almost here. I can feel it. My flowering Dogwood is beginning to bud. My surprise lilies are pushing up through the cold dirt and light layer of snow. For several days the skies have gleamed with true blue only found this time of year. It has been a hard, hard winter. My commitment to health and stability has been tried. I remained focused but it was difficult. The time to release all the tension is at hand. 

Lent is a traditionally a time for reflection and renewal. Growing up in a non-liturgical church, Lent was never something we focused on. The idea of of honoring the Lenten season is new to me but one I find myself embracing. This year I intend to take 40 days to refresh and renew my spirit and my mind. I think it will greatly benefit me after this particular winter. 

Meditation and yoga have not been practiced as diligently as I would have like. Our home was so chilly in the morning. My morning yoga sessions became miserable as cold muscles refused to warm or be supple. It was a fight I decided to forego as long as the frigid temperatures remained. 

This is my first commitment. To revisit these two practices. Both of them combined is where my true peace lies. They culminate in an equinimity that greatly enhances my patience, compassion, and ability to honor love and beauty in their many forms. I embrace them again as old friends welcomed home from a long and perilous journey. 

Peace in my mind also benefits from peace in my environment. With that in mind, I am embarking on the 40 Bags for 40 Days commitment. It is really easy, I get rid of one bag, box, or bin in my house each and every day. Truthfully, I don't know if we have 40 in this house but hey, that's a good thing. Spring cleaning will also be coupled with this process. I am not even planning it. I just know me. As junk leaves, I have an innate desire to clean. Bonus. 

I am also committed to being more intentional with my reading. In addition to the books I read for pure fun, I will reading books on mindfulness and simplicity. This actually coincides with a desire I have to implement a very slow, mindful pace for our family over the next spring and summer with a huge emphasis on nature, unstructured free play, and exploration for us all. 

Finally,  through journaling and meditation I would like to explore some deep seated irritants that are rising unexpectedly. These are deep within my psyche and are embedded below my general consciousness but it is time they are addressed. Time and time again I find anger even rage arise seemingly out of the blue. There are some things still chaining my soul and I want to deal with them so they no longer have control in my life. 

So that is it my friends. Really it is just commitment to be more mindful. I want to slow down and truly savor as my Red Bud tree explodes into color. I want to quietly watch my children make discoveries in nature. I want to really hear people and connect with them. I want to see their noble beauty first and foremost with a heart of compassion and love. I want to be the best and most authentic me I can be and live my life in harmony and joy. 

However you honor this season, I pray you find peace and light each and every day. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Year of Creativity

Each year of my life, at least recently, seems to have a theme to it. I don’t do this deliberately but it still happens. The past several years have been focused on becoming healthier be it physically, mentally, or spiritually. These years have led to some great things in my life. 

This year seems to be entirely focused on art and creation. Almost out of the blue I am creating piece after piece of visual art. I am experimenting in different paints and other color mediums, textures, layers, and loving mixed media on the whole. I am learning piano as if I am fire. I have some musical backgrounds but wow, I am just flying through the lesson. I am truly having the time of my life. It is so much fun. 

But it has been my most recent endeavor into creation that caused introspection on what is exactly going on with my life at this time. Writing has always been a natural outlet for me. I am a well spoken and articulate person but I have always felt more comfortable expressing myself through the written word. However, in the past several years I have not really been writing. Oh, I have the odd blog post and I journal on and off but I am talking about really delving deep into my craft. I mean the true exploration and playing with words, themes, and ideas. I have not been writing. Why? 

Well I think there are two main factors. First, the past decade of my life has been filled with what have been life altering changes. Even though they were baby steps at the time the result has been dramatic and amazing. A little over a ten years ago I left the one truly co-dependent relationship I have had. I not saying my other relationships were models of health, but this was bad. The fact I stayed in those confines rocked my foundations and filled me with self doubt. Those doubts had to be dealt with if I were ever to be healthy again. 

Very long story short, over these 10 years I have turned from an anxiety ridden, unpleasant (really could probably just use the word bitch here but hey, let’s be graceful) , and totally unhealthy person (I smoked like a fiend!) to a grounded, harmony filled person who deals with the challenges of life through meditation, yoga, and stronger focus on whole food nutrition and consistently practices an attitude of gratitude. I am not exaggerating when I say the change is night and day. 

The second major change in my life is I have embraced and even rejoice in the fact I am a introvert.  Actually, I am a really big introvert. For years I thought since I wasn’t shy and could handle groups and socializing just fine, I was an extravert. Since extravert is often the desired way of being in our society, I pushed myself to be just that. It drained me terribly and left me constantly emotional fragile and on edge. I am sure those misplaced attempts contributed to my simply lovely demeanor. 

I  think these two things drastically changed everything about my life. It definitely changed my vision of who I am and how I deal with life. It is the basis of my positive outlook on life. The upheaval, although ultimately wonderfully good, was huge and destabilizing. Yep, some chaos definitely ensued.

All of the above resulting in the need to really compost my experience. I love the idea of that. Experiences, thoughts, whatever lie fallow in your mind and unconscious being dealt with and worked over without you even consciously realizing it then one day BAM!! Explosion. 

That is where I am now. I am having this incredible almost volcanic overflow of creativity and ideas. The artist energy feel like it is just coming out of every pore until I quietly glow all the time. It is really an exciting time and I am just riding the wave to see where it takes me. Hey, after 10 year, this could be really good. 

May harmony find you my friends. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Making Meditation a Priority

There are a multitude of things I credit to my health and well being. I eat a largely whole food vegan diet. I get a lot of sleep. I workout regularly with good intensity. I am an avid yogi. I meditate...when I can.

You see, like many of you I have commitments and obligations competeing for my time. I will not say I am busy because I am not. I will not do busy. I will cut large swathes of things out of my life and my family's life if I reach the point of busy.  But there are things that take up my time. I keep them organized by priority. In my head there are many three most important things to do each day, three that would be beneficial to do, and maybe three thing it would be nice to do. This system works for me and keeps me from stress. But I think I need to switch out my something in that top category. It would be extremely beneficial in my life to put a priority on meditation.

I am realizing regular meditation makes a life changing difference in my life. With a regular meditation practice, I can handle just about anything. My peace and inner tranquility rises above almost any situation large or small and prevails. My life seems to almost naturally fall into harmony and equinimity when I meditate, daily.I am coming to understand using meditation as the ultimate tool allows me to truly delve into my being. Through mediation I discover what my passions really are and what truly is most important to me. When I mediate I achieve a clarity and resolution about my life that is almost magical in its intensity. It is truly a wonder.

Even though I don't watch much television and I avoid magazines, etc.,  I think there is still an unconscious and unfortunately almost unending stream of media and propaganda filtering into my brain each day. Millions of dollars are spent on ad campaigns that attempt to influence what is important to me, and everyone else, in my life. These campaigns seek to breed a dissatisfaction and discontent deep within our beings in order to sell us, well more crap we don't need. We are pushed to embrace rampant consumerism, the pursuit of materialism, and ultimately focus on an external locus of identity. None of it is real and none of it is really important. It is an attempt to scam us into believing a mass delusion and honestly, it is very, very successful.

An  established, long term meditation practice can help us cut through that delusion and begin to see the world as it truly is. Through the focus and training of our minds, we can discover what truly matters. Reality dawns around us in all of its breath-taking natural glory. Our eyes are opened and it is far more wonderful and beautiful than the delusion ever promised to be.

This is why I am changing around my priorities. This is why I am going to put meditation at the top of my list every single day. It won't be easy. Anything that truly matters rarely is easy. But it is doable and that is promise enough for me.

I want truth. I want beauty. I want to focus on what reality is and what matters. Ultimately I want release "I want" and simply dwell in the being.

May harmony find you my friends.

Monday, January 20, 2014

the Thief That is Worry

Yesterday was simply a lovely day. I spent time with my family, I painted, even cleaned up a little. It was not a big, exciting day but rather a quiet, lovely time filled with simple moments creating a memory of a beautiful day.

I love the path I am on with my life. Learning to control my emotions and letting go of the worry over things I have no control has freed me to see the stunning beauty in life. Since my mind is no longer continually focused on the uncertainties of tomorrow, I am free to delve into and savor the amazing beauty of the simple, quiet moments life has in abundance. These moments make them selves know to me as if they want me to notice and enjoy them.

When your mind continually races and frets, you miss so many important things. You may not see the delicate perfection of the first blooms of a Redbud tree. The enticing smell of wood smoke in your child's hair as you hold them close may elude you. You may not take the time to really experience the feeling of your child, full of trust and love for you, as they simply melt in your embrace. You may not realize that action conveys more feelings of warmth and happiness than mere words are able to describe. You may not catch the look in your lover's eye turning an everyday word or occurrence into a shared moment of internal laughter and intimacy. The moment the warmth of a new spring day invigorates your beloved, old arthritic dog to romp as if his world was new may be lost to you.

Worry and fretting has the power to take all of this from you. Let's have truth between us, ultimately it is these precious moments gifted to us that make our life truly worth living. Without them it is just a drone and hardship until we leave this life.

But you have the power to banish worry, mostly, from your mind. Armed with those small moments of beauty resonating deeply in your heart,you can no longer allow fretting and worry to have a hold in your mind. Each time it arises you can say, "Worry you are not welcome here today. I have done what I can to ensure the prosperity of my tomorrows and I will not think of it anymore." Then you turn your mind to what makes you happy, what brings a smile to your face, what brings peace into your heart. Each time worry threatens to upset your harmony, return to you list. Soon your natural inclination will be to see the abundance in your life rather than fear of what might happen.

I made this change started almost a decade ago. I promise you will not miss or mourn worry in your life. You will find joy and peace in the freedom banishing worry brings.

May harmony find you today my friends.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Creativity Explosion

That my friends is my very first mandala. I just love it. I am in the grip of a creativity explosion so this post may very well be disjointed but hey, the ride should be fun.

This picture was done on  December 31, 2013. Now I am not all about the New Year. We don't really do anything special. I don't do resolutions. It usually isn't a very big deal but this year has been special. I think it is more by chance than design I have experienced this huge life shift but whatever, I will happily go with it.

This past year I have really found my footing on my path.I have regained my brain after giving birth and dealing with a child sick for almost two years with reflux. (Seriously, you cannot function when you haven't slept more than 4 hours at a time in two YEARS!!). I have learned to let situations and people toxic to my family go without a lot of fretting. I say no to anything I deem detrimental to our harmony. I am now doing daily yoga, eating really well, getting plenty of exercise, and meditating more and more. Seriously folks, I am loving life. Yes, there are still difficulties and hardships. Yes, I still get sad, angry, and ever flirt with depression. But I have learned these things are transient and if I will just ride them out and choose joy wherever I can, they will soon pass away. On the flip side, I know wonderful and beautiful things will also pass way so take time to enjoy and cherish them.

I have also learned, I still have a big ego. I was really enjoying posting pics of my yoga "accomplishments". They were just so pretty and fabulous. Hello, see my big ego begging for approbation? Yep, so I am not really doing that anymore. Silly ego.

I am almost not raising my voice with my kids anymore. We practice gentle, nonviolent, non-shaming, parenting. But I was still finding myself losing my temper and yelling at my kids. Not cool. Um, how can I expect my children to learn self discipline and control themselves when I obviously couldn't??? So I started on a campaign to end it. I used a bracelet. That bracelet reminded me of my commitment to practice self discipline and self control. It has made me more mindful of my triggers. Surprise, surprise, often my triggers were stressers I had brought into the family by means of unrealistic expectations.

This January the 9th I will finish my first 108 Days of Mindfulness. It was amazing. I learned so much. I learned I don't like to mix me with alcohol. Even one drink makes me not mindful and I don't like that. Total personal choice but a choice I think may very well prevail in my life. This time has taught me to simplify even more. Streamline my life to really focus ONLY on those things which truly matter to me. Wow, so much I thought was important just doesn't matter at all to me. Learn something new all the time, huh?

This winter I have truly embraced my desire to be an introvert and hibernate. I still have moments of anxiety caused from SAD but overall it has been terrific. I have nothing scheduled, no work projects, home improvement, nothing but that which brings me joy until spring. I think my spring will explode with amazing projects imbued with refreshed and revitalized energy.

Okay, so all of this sort of brings me to right here, right now. I am having an artistic explosion. I am so interested in doing art, I am distracted in doing almost everything else. I am pretty sure this will settle down but for right now the kids are just doing art with me and my husband seems to be okay coming home to clouds of glitter and forgotten dinner.

You see, I have never "done" art before. How could I??? What if I wasn't instantly and applause worthy amazing at it???? What if it wasn't perfect?? Oh yes, this seems to be the place where my self doubts and self criticism tried to make their last stand. Well my friends, I am in the process of blowing them to smithereens. It is so absolutely mind-blowingly fantastically freeing and beautiful. I love it. I am starting a new art journal where anything goes. There is no right, no shoulds, just creation and it is so freaking amazing it makes my fingers and toes just tingle with the very thought of it.

So this year my sweet delightful friends, I shall do art and within that process I shall find even more of me.

May harmony (and creativity) find you.